World No. 8 Belinda Bencic quit the U.S. Open Saturday, becoming the fifth of the top eight WTA players to pull out from New York’s Grand Slam event amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Bencic, 23, became a Grand Slam semi finalist at last year’s event, for the first time in her career. She lost to eventual Canadian champion Bianca Andreescu.
Belinda Bencic withdraws
“I made the hard decision to miss the US swing in New York and will stick to the tour beginning next month in Rome,” wrote Belinda Bencic of Switzerland on several social media pages. “… I look forward to going back to New York next year and wish anyone playing there the best of luck in the coming weeks.”
The Italian Open, a tune-up to the French Open, starts on 14 Sept.
Top-ranked Ashleigh Barty of Australia, No. 5 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, Andreescu (No. 6) and Netherlands No. 7 Kiki Bertens previously confirmed that they are not competing at the tournament expected to start on Aug. 31.
Svitolina was also a semi finalist last year, leaving Serena Williams in ninth place as the last 2019 semifinalist not to be removed.
Romania’s second-ranked Simona Halep is also on the fence with her thoughts as of Saturday. She’s supposed to make an announcement in the next few days, maybe after her Prague Open Sunday title match.
Czech Republic’s 3rd-seeded Karolina Pliskova is going to compete at the event. Fourth-seeded Sofia Kenin has said she will be playing in New York as well as the Western & Southern Open, the tune-up event that starts on Thursday, in New York too.
Among the other women to pull out is Svetlana Kuznetsova, champion in 2004.
After Belinda Bencic ‘s withdrawal Barbara Haas of Austria also moved into the main draw.
Defending champion Rafael Nadal is one of the men’s players who retired because of the pandemic.